Darkness Dwells - Metrics and Research

During earlier blogs I have talked a bit about promotion and social media and I have talked a bunch about research, but I haven’t really concluded how it worked out for us or what we did with feedback that was provided to us. That is the purpose of this blog.  

On social media we very early on made a twitter and Facebook account that most members shared with their followers. On these social medias we kept posting pictures and teasers for the game, but most importantly, we used twitter polls. This allowed us to sort of gauge out what our audience enjoyed at the same time we were developing the game. It also allowed us to be more in contact with our audience and show them that we were interested in their opinions in order to make our game better.  

What we found out through the social media and out of assumption testing was that most people that enjoyed horror games enjoyed challenge with it. Making it a struggle for survival and getting the adrenaline pumping even harder. We decided to take this into consideration when making our game, hence why we added the radio and the use of the bed monster. The bed monster originally wasn’t supposed to be a threat during the entire game, but upon testing the game and having it feel to easy, we made it so that the player has to try and balance the bed monster with everything else happening in the game. On top of this, we added the radio, which makes all the monsters appear faster unless the player turns it off, adding a new layer of urgency and challenge.  

It is not a surprise that streamers and youtubers enjoy horror games, for the main purpose of overreacting to them. Somehow, it seems to attract a lot of views. views that we can guide to our page. The game was originally made with youtubers in mind, which is the whole reason why the game is based around jumpscares. Due to research made by a teammate of the project, we managed to find out that generally people do not care if there is a lot of jumpscares in a short amount of time. Naturally we used this to our advantage and based our game around this as part of our core mechanic.

I believe it is due to our research and interaction with the audience, that darkness dwells at this point is number 3 on most popular game on itch.io, and have been featured on the front page. Thank you for reading this short blog discussion.

Darkness Dwells Post Mortem

What Did We Do?

Darkness Dwells was a continuation on the game developed by Scott Anastasi the trimester before this. In that game, you played a child seeing monsters appear and finding comfort in your parents presence. For this project, we took that game and built it into a horror game where you have to try and keep the monsters out, only using your flashlight. The player had to try and stop three monsters, Longtooth (in the closet), The Gremlin (on the rocking horse) and UnderBed (take a wild guess). Each monster required a different tactic to handle. But there was another factor. There is also a radio that speeds up the rate of which the monsters appear that the player had to turn off.

What Went Well?

During this project our team performed really well in all fields. We communicated often and clearly about what we were working on and when. We discussed changes with each other and made sure we compromised if not all agreed. As project manager I tried to make sure that everyone had something to do at all times, and often tried to tie that into the specialization that that person wanted to use.

As a team we worked closely together with two animators that made the main character models for us. We treated them well and made sure to give them proper feedback and the praise they required. There was large amounts of trust between the game developers and the collaborators, and I think that the trust we had for work to get done was a crucial part for the games completion. We could not have been where we are today without their splendid work.

We used project management tools such as Hack’N’Plan and development schedules with excellency in order to get work done on time, with great success. We scoped when necessary and managed to pivot and change upon feedback with ease.

In my opinion the teams marketing was fantastically executed. We made up a plan, and acted upon it. At the point I am writing this, the game page on itch.io has 1278 views and 342 downloads, as well as being the number 3 most popular game on itch.io. We have had several people play the game and upload the video to youtube where it has received high praise.

What Didn’t Go Well?

This game has been my second game as a project manager, and there was a lot that went wrong with it. I enjoy being project manager, but I believe that some of the things that went wrong was that a) no one really wanted to be project manager from the start, so I stepped in just because we needed one, and b) I didn’t feel super engaged with the project for a while, so I found it difficult to do much work for it.

Nevertheless, I pushed through my feelings and tried to do my best, and it started off pretty good in my opinion. However, I as a person am very passive, and I don’t make a lot of noise when things go against my preference, so when team members started going off the schedule or started giving orders to other members, I didn’t really speak up, making it feel like I wasn’t actually the project manager.

In order to better myself for future projects, I need to speak up more. I need to start taking a stand if roles or schedules are strafed away from, and make sure we end up where we want to be. I need to try and be more inspiring and helpful, while making sure everyone does the work they’re supposed to do.

What Did I Learn?

Working on Darkness Dwells made me learn a whole heap about what being a generalist means. I got to take care of Localization, UI, Options, and many other things I haven’t touched as much before (except for UI). It was a very enriching experience and helped me accept that I am a game designer as well as generalist, instead of trying to find a specialisation.

This project taught me a whole bunch of useful information about marketing that I had no experience with before. I now know how to find a market and make a game that panders to that market, as well as creating a brand/identity and promote all of that on social media. I learned about price points and about making assumptions and researching those assumptions for the selected market.

Darkness Dwells Marketing and Branding

In the brief for Darkness Dwells we were told that marketing was going to be a big part of the development. In fact, it was the entire reason that the game was created from the start. To take an existing game, research the market for it and then start creating a brand and promoting our work online to gain an audience before the game was released.

Marketing & Promotion

For the marketing itself, we really enjoyed the thought of having the fan base try to decipher the story or the origin of the characters. To do this we planned to post images and Gifs as much as possible to attract audiences early on. The whole point of this was to make them curious and start sharing ideas and theories about the game and its story.

When we sat down to talk about the market for our game we decided that twitter would be our main platform, as it is easy to share posts with your followers there, but also using Facebook to try and reach that audience as well. We did a bunch of research into horror games and what their price points were, as well as what type of content you got for what price and what the users thought about it. We also made some difficulty assumptions, which was based on an assumption that horror game players enjoyed challenge in their horror games. Fortunately, our assumption was proven correct and it allowed us to shape our game to be more difficult. Our market for darkness dwells were mostly YouTubers and horror game players. The main reason for us using YouTubers were because they tend to fake being scared and therefore gain more viewers. More viewers for them would hopefully translate over to more downloads for our game.

In order to reach a larger audience we were given the tip that we should use localization, meaning we add language options in order to reach other countries as well. One of the main languages (that also is a big portion of the games market) is simplified chinese. It shocked me to find out how much the percentage of purchases used simplified chinese as a language.

Branding

For the branding of Darkness Dwells we early on noticed that we really enjoyed Longtooth, and because of that he became the main monster for our game, much like Freddy in the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise. Because of this we decided to use him for a ton of promotional material including banners, logos etc. We thought it would be important to have a distinct character that would give our game a recognizable face.

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Above are some of the marketing material used to promote the game and to create a brand out of the character Longtooth.

The results of this plan will be posted in the post mortem for the project, which is being posted in a few days, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Thanks for reading